Earlier last month, the League of Legends Japan League announced plans to franchise in 2019. In that announcement, Pentagram (formerly Rampage) was excluded from future franchising plans, while the league stated that it would decide upon new franchises on December 26th. Today, the LJL announced its three newest franchises as: AXIZ, Sengoku Gaming, and Rascal Jester. AXIZ, Burning Core, Crest Gaming, DetonatioN FocusMe, Rascal Jester, Sengoku Gaming, Unsold Stuff Gaming, and V3 Esports will be the eight franchised LJL teams in 2019.
AXZ and Sengoku Gaming are both new additions to the LJL while Rascal Jester has been involved with the league in the past. AXZ is a multi-game operating team owned by AX Entertainment while Sengoku Gaming is a team that operates a gaming cafe called SG. LAN in the Fukuoka prefecture. Notably, Sengoku has been involved in numerous FPS titles such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) and Rainbow Six Siege. Rascal Jester was one of the four Japanese organizations to form the LJL back in 2014, but has bounced back and forth between the main league and Challenger Series.
Along with these franchised organizations, the LJL announced that 27 million yen, roughly $245,000 USD, will be committed to the 2019 prize pool. More specifically, the Spring and Summer Split winners will take home 10 million yen, roughly $91,000 USD. Additionally, 50,000 yen, roughly $450 USD, will be awarded to the players voted best in their position at the end of the split, with a “Player of the Week” also earning 50,000 yen. No further details on prize money were released.
In addition to the newly franchised league and adjusted prize pool, the LJL will also be returning to a Best-Of-One format. Eight games will be played on a weekly basis with either eight games taking place on one Saturday, or five games taking place on Friday followed by three games on Sunday. The regular season will span 11 weeks and seed three teams into the playoff bracket, with the 2nd and 3rd place teams being seeded into the semifinal and the 1st place team being seeded directly into the final.
Riot Games, Yoshimoto Creative Agency Co., and Playbrain Co. will jointly operate the league in 2019. Riot Games will operate as title sponsor and organizer while Yoshimoto and Playbrain operate the league on a week-to-week basis. Yoshimoto is a well-known entertainment conglomerate in Japan and has previously sponsored Akihabara Encount’s Overwatch team in Overwatch Pacific Contenders. Playbrain is a marketing agency for games in Japan, and has previously worked together with the LJL, in addition to other gaming entities such as Blizzard and Twitch.
Additionally, the 2019 LJL will be hosted at the 220-seat Yoshimoto Hall located in the Shibuya district in Tokyo, Japan. Previously, the LJL had been hosted at e-sports SQUARE AKIHABARA, a public gaming space in Tokyo, Japan. The LJL will begin on January 19th, 2019.